Colts' Trent Richardson Can Redefine Career by Busting out Against Chiefs

Mike FreemanNFL National Lead WriterJanuary 3, 2014

Phil Sears/USA Today

Indianapolis — This is not an attempt to be cruel. Or a smart ass. Or nasty. It is a statement of fact: Colts running back Trent Richardson has been a bust.

This does not mean he always will be a bust. He has also not entered the pantheon of elite busts. He's not an ATB: All-Time Bust. He's not in the Todd Marinovich universe. He's not JaMarcus Richardson. For those of us who thought the trade to Indianapolis would free Richardson, and he would leap forward and leave a cloud of dust, he has instead left a cloud of bust.

At Alabama, he looked large and swift. Now, Richardson looks plump, like a Thanksgiving turkey. His runs resemble a dump truck stuck on a swath of ice. In college, he ran over dudes. Boom. As a Colt, even the slightest hit stops Richardson in his tracks. One scout called these Richardson plays "groundhog runs." Because Richardson runs like he's scared of his own shadow.

NEW ORLEANS, LA - JANUARY 09:  Trent Richardson #3 of the Alabama Crimson Tide celebrates after defeating Louisiana State University Tigers in the 2012 Allstate BCS National Championship Game at Mercedes-Benz Superdome on January 9, 2012 in New Orleans, L
Andy Lyons/Getty Images

What Eddie Lacy is in Green Bay now, that is what Richardson was supposed to be. In his college career, Richardson was King Ghidorah and tacklers were Japanese towns. 

Scouts that loved Richardson when he came out of Alabama are almost stunned at what they see. He doesn't resemble the player, in any way, they thought would dominate the NFL. The theories as to why are numerous, but the most common among league personnel men has roots in an old NFL cautionary tale.

Richardson was used to running over weaker players in college. Then, when he got to the pros, the level of violence stunned him, this theory goes, and he doesn't have the extra gear that great runners like Adrian Peterson possess to overcome those tough hits. In short, what these personnel men believe is that Richardson lacks heart.

What has become clear is that for the Colts to go far in the postseason, which begins for them against Kansas City on Saturday, they will need more than super-quarterback Andrew Luck to yet again morph into a member of the Justice League. Luck will need help and Richardson is the player who needs to provide it.

The Colts won't go far with a feeble Richardson and the overachieving Donald Brown. One of them has to be great. It's time for Richardson to get off his large duff and show the Colts he is indeed the back worthy of the first-round pick the team gave up to get him.

This is when Richardson can change the narrative. It can start now. If he becomes a factor, he can ease the pressure on Luck and recreate a new future for himself.

SAN DIEGO, CA - OCTOBER 14:  Andrew Luck #12 hands off the ball to Trent Richardson #34 of the Indianapolis Colts during the game against the San Diego Chargers on October 14, 2013 at Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego, California. (Photo by Donald Miralle/Get
Donald Miralle/Getty Images

Richardson told Terez Paylor of The Kansas City Star that when he first got to the Colts, he was welcomed warmly. “That’s one thing that I noticed when I first walked in,” Richardson said. “These guys embraced me, and it’s been a blessing for me. You don’t find teams, especially NFL that, for real. You had that in college, but when you build a family in the NFL, that’s big.”

The Colts are a tight group, but I can guarantee you some of the players are looking at Richardson the way everyone else is. They see that emaciated 2.9 yards per carry and wonder: Dude, what the hell happened to you? I saw you on TV when you were at Alabama use your shoulder pads to plant linebackers into the ground like they were tulips.

That can change. It must change. Richardson was the third overall pick in the 2012 draft. He's 225 pounds. The Colts thought he would be great.

Time for Richardson to finally start proving them right.